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Perfume-collecting male euglossine bees as pollinators of a basal angiosperm: the case of Unonopsis stipitata (Annonaceae)


  • Editor
    J. Arroyo

H. Teichert, Institute of Systematic Botany and Ecology, University of Ulm, Albert-Einstein-Allee 11, Ulm 89081, Germany.


Pollination of Unonopsis stipitata (Annonaceae) by males of two perfume-collecting bees, Euglossa imperialis and Eulaema bombiformis (Euglossini) is described. This is the first detailed account of this pollination mode in a member of a basal angiosperm family. Pollinator behaviour, identification of the odour bouquet and electrophysiological reaction of one of the two pollinators to the odour bouquet were determined. The collected odour is produced by ‘osmophores’ located adaxially on the petals. Starch and polysaccharides accumulated in petals are metabolized during odour emission. Mainly monoterpenes were detected in the scent samples, among them trans-carvone oxide. This molecule is thought by several authors to be the key attractant for male Eulaema bees and may be pivotal for convergent evolution of the perfume-collecting syndrome among dicotyledonous and monocotyledonous plants. It is speculated that Unonopsis, which on the basis of molecular age dating is considered a relatively recent genus of the Annonaceae (being 15–30 million years old), has diversified in relation to male euglossine bee pollinators.

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